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Rocketry at the Makerspace!

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  • Rocketry at the Makerspace!

    Hey all! A hobby of mine over the past while has been rocketry projects, I built this project over the summer and wanted to share it.
    This project was largely built out of re-purposed materials or ones that I created directly at the Makerspace.



    It was 1.4 meters tall (55"), 83 mm diameter (3") and flew on a G-class G80 motor - which in this case is a 109 Newton (24lb) peak thrust motor. This is about the largest motor one can buy without special certifications.

    All in the rocket weighed about 1kg (2 lb) and should have flown to about 350 meters (1150 feet) and 315 km/h (195 mph). The idea was to build a simple, but large rocket out of a shipping tube that my Mcmaster Carr order arrived in. With this engine, a lighter and smaller build would have been faster or go higher, you can easily go supersonic on these motors. Unfortunately I lost sight of it at launch, had issues with the parachute and despite hours of searching it was never found.

    Regardless here's some photos of the build!

    Tools I used:
    Open Rocket - free software that helps with all aspects of design, estimates performance and calculates stability margins. Get it here> http://openrocket.info/
    Fusion 360 - not a must, but an extremely useful tool for creating the laser cut & 3D printed pieces.
    3D printer - for making the nose cone.
    Laser cutter - for making the fins, centering rings and ejection charge baffles.
    Paint booth - the paint booth in the Fab Shop is ventilated and free from dust and breeze; problems I would have had in my garage or yard.
    Vinyl Cutter - thanks to Vaughn for the sick decals!

    Starting out I first used OpenRocket to create my design and make sure it was going to fly nice and straight. The principles of this is that the center of mass has to be ahead of the center of pressure, just like say a Shuttlecock used in badminton. The more weight to the front and the more drag in the back the more stable it is. These calculations can be done by hand, but it's super tedious and OpenRocket takes care of that for you. On top of that you can figure out ejection charge delay times, and of course get estimates on speed and altitude.

    Getting the fins to the correct size, adding weights or moving around weights is the key to making sure things will fly straight up, rather than say straight at yourself.

    This program sounds like it might be super complicated, but honestly its pretty simple. In fact my 12 year old son was able to pick it up with a little bit of training and design his own that he later built and flew!

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    More in the next post...
    Last edited by Garret H; 10-26-2018, 10:44 PM.

  • #2
    After initial design I loaded everything into Fusion 360, drew some more detail and created all the necessary parts I would need. There is a little back and forth in this process, between F360 and OpenRocket, as well as weighing all the components and back checking for accuracy, but really the work here isn't more than an afternoon. As you draw the parts its an easy and fast process to export DXF's and STL's to the laser cutter and 3D Printer.

    Designing the fins, a fin jig, and the finished fin can as its being installed:

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    • #3
      After installing the fins it's best to strengthen them by adding some fillets between the fins and the body tube. Some 2 part JB weld epoxy is easy to work with and makes for a very strong connection. Some masking tape can be used to make for nice clean lines. Next to fill in seams on the cardboard body tube a diluted mix of Elmer's Carpenter's filler & water is used and then sanded. The rocket after filling can be seen here, along with a super handy banana to give a sense of scale.

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      • #4
        I built an ejection baffle for this rocket, this helps slow the hot gas from the black powder ejection charge down mixes with air and helps prevent the parachute from getting roasty toasty. This is where having a laser cutter pays dividends! This type of part would be very time consuming to built by hand but its a 5 second job on the laser. Alongside this a nose cone was 3D printed.

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        • #5
          After final assembly the rocket was sent out to the paint booth at the Makerspace, and done up in a 2-tone paints scheme. Vaughn made some awesome Makerspace decals for this rocket and it was all finished up!


          And then, it was launched. I wanted to capture the blue flame of this motor by launching it at dusk, unfortunately this decision came back to haunt me as it disappeared from sight. I did at least manage to get a couple shots from liftoff, unfortunately the on board video camera was lost

          But, one failure is not the end. This rocket shall be reborn, lighter, faster, higher, and with a significant suite of electronics to provide redundant altitude dependent parachute deployments, telemetry tracking, and a GPS tracker.

          My hope for this next build isn't just to fly the rocket, but also to carry a payload from the Makerspace community!

          If anyone's interested in doing a similar project or building this exact same one, hit me up. I can post tutorials, files, dxf's or whatever you need!
          Attached Files
          Last edited by Garret H; 10-26-2018, 10:53 PM.

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          • #6
            Well I rebuilt this thing, this time using some tubes that give a huge amount of room for payload.

            I've got 18" long x 3" diameter free to put something in there. Any suggestions?

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            • #7
              I'm a fan of stuffed animals with parachutes. Surplus 2010 Olympic mascots work well in my experience, though there has been at least one Quatchi left in a very tall tree. Charlie Brown suffers from kite eating trees, I suffer from rocket eating trees, regardless of launch area.
              Board Member - Treasurer

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              • #8
                I built a coupler and elecronics bay for the midsection last night. This will hold a flight computer and then possibly a camera also.

                Looking around at all these LED lights around the space I have been thinking it would be awesome to have LED strips in line with the fins and striping I had before. A night launch with this thing all lit up when coming down under parachute would be awesome! ron_ron and Synchro any interest in helping out with that?

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                • #9
                  That sounds interesting!

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                  • #10
                    cool idea, would be down to help with that...moving this weekend, would be down to help after that...

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                    • Synchro
                      Synchro commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Made it to Kamloops, let me know when you would like to light up the rocket.

                    • Garret H
                      Garret H commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Will do. I've got some serious studying to focus on but soon I hope!

                    • ron_ron
                      ron_ron commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I am interested in learning about rockets!

                  • #11
                    While the plan is definitely to fly this thing, if it does get lights added to it that will make for a pretty cool display at the Makerspace.
                    I had a thought today, that is getting pretty far into the arts territory, which is sweet because that is full on STEAM in action!
                    There are these really cool lamp designs, where you put LED's in loose cotton and it looks just like lit up exhaust like in the link. Doing that where the rocket hangs by the stairs would look super cool!
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                    https://technabob.com/blog/2016/07/05/diy-rocket-lamp/

                    In terms of actual propellant there are three different ones I can buy that we could use for inspiration, so we can put a photo of actual launch next to this badass display.
                    Mojave Green, Blue Thunder, or Metal Storm
                    I flew with Blue Thunder before and the the is super bright at night!

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                    • #12
                      My son and I fired this thing off on Sunday for a completely successful 1st flight. The spin on ascent was pretty dramatic so get your barf bag ready if that kind of thing makes you queasy!

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                      • #13
                        Update: my son and I have been hard at work on finishing off the big Makerspace Rocket. We've put some LED strips on it (thanks Synchro) and are applying paint and primer over the weekend. I'll post some photos as we get it completed.


                        In the meanwhile here's a few projects that I've worked on over the past while.

                        The first is a scale model rocket of the Atlas V, complete with decals to match the launch of the Insight mission to Mars. The first flight of this resulted in an unfortunate hard landing that required some repairs. This also taught me a lesson to build unfinished prototypes before flying. I've built said prototype now, which is the unpainted one sitting next to it. The whole model can have different nosecones mounted to it that match the various variants of that rocket.

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                        The other one here is a Falcon Heavy model, where the side boosters will fall off mid-flight after the 2 side engines burn out. This thing has been super complicated and had been stuck on a shelf for a few years until just the past few months. It's finally ready and just waiting for when the fire hazard in town is lower.

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                        • #14
                          Here's another project. Back in January build photos of a SpaceX prototype vehicle being built out of Stainless Steel started coming out. I decided to build my own, and to save time would 3D print the body, fin-legs and nose cone in large assemblies.

                          Some of the layer adhesion on the printed parts wasn't great, but I had planned to reinforce it with some laser cut plywood stringer and rings anyway. I printed a little key the whole length that made alignment on assembly really easy. Then to get the look just right I applied some chrome vinyl decals. The nose cone was done as flat segments rather than a constant curve to make application possible.

                          The whole thing was actually quite easy to build and assemble, other than some minor sanding needed on the wood parts for fit. I wanted to try make use of automated machines to make the build as easy as possible. The thin wall 3D printed skin reinforced with the wood ring and stringers is really stiff, and quite strong in the lower and upper sections. This method of construction would scale up real well. The Vinyl cut decals were WAY easier than trying to get a similar finish through painting.

                          Here is the end result:
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                          Oh and here is the actual SpaceX prototype I was trying to copy:

                          Attached Files
                          Last edited by Garret H; 06-28-2019, 02:39 PM.

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                          • #15
                            My son and I have been busy for the past week few weeks. He soldered, painted and plucked vinyl decals designed by Vaughn . Finally last night with help from Synchro we got the last details of the LED's hooked up and ran power to the display hangers for the Makerspace Rocket. This thing is now lit up and on display until we get a chance to due a night launch.

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                            Last edited by Garret H; 07-09-2019, 09:05 AM.

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